Discover the best of Italian American comfort cooking with this mouth-watering Baked Ziti with Ricotta. It’s a perfect blend of pasta, rich and flavorful pasta sauce (homemade pasta sauce if you wish), and a generous mix of cheeses, baked to bubbly perfection. Ideal for cozy family dinners or when you just need a hearty, feel-good meal. Simple, delicious, and utterly satisfying!
Although this recipe is vegetarian, feel free to serve some Italian meatballs on the side!.
Why This Recipe?
Ease of Preparation: This Baked Ziti recipe is simple and user-friendly, perfect for beginners or those seeking a no-fuss cooking experience.
One-Pot Convenience: Enjoy minimal clean-up with this one-pot meal, ideal for busy lifestyles and quick kitchen turnarounds.
Comfort Food Classic: With its warm, cheesy goodness, Baked Ziti is the ultimate comfort food, perfect for cozy nights or family meals.
Amazing Leftovers: The leftovers taste even better, offering flavorful, easy-to-reheat meals for days.
Pasta Choice: Ziti or penne are the traditional choices for this dish. They have hollow centers and ridges, ideal for holding onto the sauce and cheese.
Cheese Varieties: A blend of cheeses is typically used. Mozzarella brings gooeyness, while ricotta adds creaminess. Parmesan or Pecorino Romano can be included for a sharper flavor.
Sauce: The sauce is a critical component. Many recipes use a store-bought or homemade marinara sauce. Some variations may include meat, like ground beef or Italian sausage, for added richness and flavor.
Seasonings and Herbs: Garlic, onions, and Italian herbs like basil often season the sauce, enhancing the overall flavor of the dish.
How To (Step by Step)
Preheat your oven to 350°F and start by boiling a large pot of salted water. Cook the ziti pasta until it’s shy of al dente, about 80% done, then drain and return it to the pot. If you cook the pasta until it’s done and then again in the oven, it will be mushy.
In a separate bowl, mix together ricotta, 3 cups of marinara sauce, parmesan, and salt to taste, then stir in an egg. Combine this cheese mixture with the pasta.
Layer half of this pasta mix in a 9 x 13 baking dish, sprinkle half the mozzarella on top, and then repeat with the remaining pasta and sauce. Cover the dish with aluminum foil (prevents it from drying out) and bake for 25-30 minutes. Uncover, add the remaining mozzarella, and bake until the cheese melts. Let it stand for a few minutes after removing from the oven to set the layers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, while ziti is traditional, similar tubular pasta like penne or rigatoni can work well too.
Absolutely. You can assemble it ahead and refrigerate. Just add a few extra minutes to the baking time if it’s going straight from fridge to oven.
Yes! Ground beef, sausage, or vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, or bell peppers can be great additions.
More Pasta and Sauces
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Baked Ziti with Ricotta (Vegetarian)
- casserole dish
- 1 pound Ziti Pasta or penne if you can’t find ziti
- 1 pound Ricotta Cheese
- 3 cups Mozzarella Chees shredded
- 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese grated
- 1 large Egg beaten
- 4 cups Marinara Sauce Store-bought or homemade (plus more for serving)
- Salt and Pepper
- Fresh Basil optional, for garnish
- Preheat your oven to 350°F
Cook the Pasta:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Add the ziti pasta and cook until just before al dente (usually 1-2 minutes less than the package instructions). The pasta should be cooked about 80 percent and will continue cooking in the oven.
- Drain the pasta well and return it to the pot.
Prepare Cheese Mixture:
- In a mixing bowl, combine all the ricotta cheese, 3 cups of the marinara sauce, and all the parmesan cheese. Taste for salt and add salt in ½ teaspoon increments. Then, add egg when the salt has been adjusted and mix well.
Combine Pasta and Cheese Mixture:
- Add the cheese mixture to the cooked pasta. Stir until the pasta is well-coated.
Layer the Ziti:
- Pour half the pasta/cheese mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish.
- Add half of the mozzarella over the pasta and top with the remaining pasta, followed by the remaining marinara sauce. Cover with aluminum foil.
Bake and Serve:
- Bake covered with aluminum foil in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes.
- Remove from oven, uncover, and add the cheese on top. Continue baking uncovered until the mozzarella is melted. Garnish with basil chiffonade if desired.
- Let the baked ziti stand for a few minutes after removing it from the oven. This helps to set the layers.